Michigan State grabs No. 1 seed in latest bracket projection

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Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans are at it again.  The Spartans have lost just once in 2013 (at Indiana), and they play the Hoosiers tonight in a heavy-weight tilt in East Lansing.  IU and MSU are tied at the top of a strong Big Ten conference.  All this considered, Michigan State joins IU, Miami-FL, and Florida as a No. 1 seed in today’s bracket.  Duke, Michigan, Gonzaga, and Louisville (among others) are chasing. Those four fall into spots five through eight on the current s-curve.  Kansas and Syracuse could also re-enter the No. 1 seed debate over the next few weeks.  Arizona has fallen off a bit, but it’s not impossible for the Wildcats to regain some traction if they win out.

Kentucky is among our first five out.  Bottom line: UK is 0-1 without Nerlens Noel, and that was a lopsided loss at Tennessee.  The Wildcats have time to re-establish their NCAA position, but they have to show the Selection Committee they can win without one of their most important players.  North Carolina is among the last five in today.  The Tar Heels still have just one Top 50 RPI win (UNLV).  Villanova, Arizona State, Temple, and Virginia join UNC as the final teams in the bracket. They are paired in the First Four.  Teams just missing today? St. John’s, Maryland, Charlotte and Indiana State – along with aforementioned Kentucky.

While things are starting to settle some, we still have a fair amount of fluidity in the middle and bottom of the bracket.  We also have a couple of procedural bumps today.  Illinois – which has played its way off the bubble – is a true eight seed, but moves up to the No. 7 spot in the Midwest because of conference conflicts.  UCLA is the team that falls a line, dropping from a true seven to an eight.  Those things happen on a fairly regular basis.  The Selection Committee tries to follow its s-curve (now referred to as Seed List) as closely as possible, but exceptions have to be made.

Geography also plays a factor.  Gonzaga is rewarded with the No. 2 seed in the West Region even though they are behind Duke and Michigan on the s-curve rankings.  Again, this can – and does – happen.  The region is re-balanced later.  Kansas, the top three-seed today, is moved West.  These are tweaks the Committee uses to create balance based on its Seed List.  Enjoy another great week of hoops.
UPDATED: February 19, 2013

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid based on current standings. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UTEP, BYU, etc). Records are for games against Division I teams only.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Temple vs. Arizona State | East Region
  • Villanova vs. Virginia | South Region
  • NORFOLK STATE vs. SOUTHERN | Midwest Region
  • HIGH POINT vs. WAGNER | South Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTWashington, DC                MIDWESTIndianapolis
Philadelphia Dayton
1) MIAMI-FL 1) INDIANA
16) NORTHEASTERN 16) SOUTHERN / NORFOLK STATE
8) Minnesota 8) UCLA
9) Missouri 9) Creighton
Salt Lake Austin
5) Colorado State 5) Pittsburgh
12) Temple / Arizona State 12) BELMONT
4) Marquette 4) Oklahoma State
13) LOUISIANA TECH 13) DAVIDSON
Philadelphia Salt Lake
6) OREGON 6) NC State
11) MID TENNESSEE ST 11) California
3) SYRACUSE 3) NEW MEXICO
14) VALPARAISO 14) STONY BROOK
Auburn Hills Lexington
7) VCU 7) Illinois
10) Oklahoma 10) La Salle
2) Michigan 2) Louisville
15) HARVARD 15) S.F. AUSTIN
SOUTH – Dallas WEST – Los Angeles
Auburn Hills Lexington
1) Michigan State 1) FLORIDA
16) HIGH POINT / WAGNER 16) MERCER
8) UNLV 8) MEMPHIS
9) WICHITA STATE 9) Saint Louis
Kansas City Austin
5) Butler 5) Wisconsin
12) Villanova / Virginia 12) Iowa State
4) KANSAS STATE 4) Georgetown
13) AKRON 13) BUCKNELL
San Jose Kansas City
6) Ohio State 6) Notre Dame
11) Baylor 11) North Carolina
3) Arizona 3) Kansas
14) MONTANA 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Dayton San Jose
7) Cincinnati 7) San Diego State
10) Mississippi 10) Colorado
2) Duke 2) GONZAGA
15) NIAGARA 15) LONG BEACH

NOTES on the BRACKET: Indiana is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Miami-FL, Michigan State, and Florida. They are followed by Duke, Michigan, Gonzaga, and Louisville on the s-curve as two-seeds.

Last Five teams in (at large): North Carolina, Villanova, Arizona State, Temple, Virginia

First Five teams out (at large): St. John’s, Maryland, Kentucky, Charlotte, Indiana State

Next Five teams out (at large): St. Mary’s, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Air Force

Breakdown by Conference …

Big East (8): Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Villanova

Big Ten (7): Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois

Big 12 (6): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Oklahoma, Iowa State

Atlantic 10 (5): Butler, VCU, Temple, La Salle, Saint Louis

ACC (5): Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Miami-FL, Virginia

Pac 12 (6): Arizona, Colorado, UCLA, Oregon, California, Arizona State

SEC (3): Missouri, Florida, Mississippi

Mountain West (4): San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Colorado State

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

West Coast (1): Gonzaga

Conference USA (1): Memphis

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … BELMONT (Ohio Valley), BUCKNELL (Patriot), MIDDLE TENNESSE ST (Sunbelt), SOUTH DAKOTA STATE(Summit), VALPARAISO (Horizon), DAVIDSON (Southern), LOUISIANA TECH (WAC), NIAGARA (MAAC), STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (Southland), AKRON (MAC), MERCER (A-Sun), HARVARD (IVY), LONG BEACH (Big West), NORTHEASTERN (Colonial), STONY BROOK (American East), MONTANA (Big Sky), NORFOLK STATE (MEAC), HIGH POINT (Big South), WAGNER (NEC), SOUTHERN (SWAC)

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.